We sit huddled against the headboard.
Knees bent under our chins.
For protection….just in case.
We cuddle, my sister and I, giving each other silent support.

Our thoughts and feelings toss wildly all over the place.
Slamming around our skulls: fear looking for a way out.
Our bodies are of no help, frozen to the spot.

In front of us is our mother, full of terror stuck in a living nightmare.
She’s sobbing, shouting, talking, and begging to an invisible being.
She’s trying to hide behind furniture, but she cant’t because all the furniture is
placed up tight against the wall.
She ducks down beside the bed instead instead.

We hear the words but they don’t make any sense.
We dont understand why she’s acting the way she is.
She’s convinced people are waiting to take her away surrounding the front door.

“Try to be invisible, don’t talk, don’t move, just stay perfectly still, don’t cry.

We stifle our fear, too scared to cry anyway.

If we let out a sob or move, she lunges with blows raining down on us shouting for us
to be quiet or they will hear us and know we are in.

Don’t know how long my sister and I have been in this huddled position but our
bodies ache and we long to stretch our limbs but we can’t.
We long for sleep: we should be tucked up in bed not here.
Daylight is filtering through the window.
A new day has arrived.

Being invisible doesn’t work either.
She screams at us for an answer.
So we try to answer the non-question.
Answering the non-question doesnt work either.

We know there’s no-one surrounding the door.
We listen real hard for movement or speech but hear nothing.
Maybe there is, I’m not so sure now.

She remembers us again and comes into our faces and shouts.
“Do yo9u want them to get me?” then hides back behind the bed.
The correct answer is no, but inside a yes sounds pretty good to me.

“Keep quiet, keep quiet, no noise”

So we just shake our heads.

Life has suddenly moved on for her now and now she wants me to go buy her cigarettes.
Her paranoia has left me paranoid for a minute or so as I find myself checking around
corners as I leave the house.

We are too young to understand what’s really going on.
All we really know is she wants to die.
Yes! She wants to die.
She’s tried a few times but she never dies.
Even this doesn’t really affect us.

This life style has gone on so long we are sort of immune to it.
We get on with life with the emotional and physical fall out raining down over and
around us.


Sandra Willis

Dagenham, United Kingdom

  • Artist

Artist's Description

This poem is about a person who has mental health issues. No-one realises what its like to live with this lifestyle. There is alot more help for sufferers now days and alot more humane. Years ago electric shot treatment was used on people rendering them helpless with the affects of the treatment. It is far reaching not just effecting immediate family and friends.

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